According to a White House announcement, President Trump declared on February 13 his intention to nominate personnel to key administration posts, among them the ambassadors to Hungary and Poland.

The Hungarian position has been vacant since the departure of former ambassador Colleen Bell when Trump was inaugurated on January 20, 2017. Her own confirmation was held up in the Senate for some time, and Cornstein is waiting to hear. Since Bell’s tenure ended, David J. Kostelancik has been chargé dʼaffaires ad interim at the US Embassy in District V’s Szabadság tér. He will again host the July 4 US Independence Day celebrations in Budapest this year, the difference from last year being that this time the invitations say he will do so "on behalf of Ambassador David B. Cornstein".

Cornstein said at his Senate hearing that it is a tremendous honour to be President Trump’s nominee to be the United States Ambassador to Hungary, and thus represent the American people in engaging with an important ally in a challenging and changing part of the world. He said the only grandparent he had the privilege of knowing was his Hungarian grandmother Sarah.

The nominee, who was born in 1938, said he has experience in both government service and the private sector. He had started with one leased fine jewellery department in a JC Penney store and 40 years later had 1200 fine jewellery departments in practically all of the department stores in the United States. The company also had departments it operated in England, Germany and France.

When he had retired from the company, it was doing well with over a billion dollars in revenue and was listed on the NASDAQ exchange. He had accomplished what he had set out to do and was ready to give back some of what he had learned in business to public service.

During the Giuliani administration, he had been Vice Chair of the Economic Development Corporation of New York City, where they negotiated many of the deals that came into the city. During the Pataki administration, he had served on the boards of Battery Park City and The Javits Convention Center. He had also chaired the New York State Olympic Commission, an eight-year labour of love to bring the 2012 Olympics to New York City.

In the Bloomberg and Spitzer administrations, Cornstein said he had completed his 16-year tenure as Chairman of the New York City and New York State Off-Track Betting Corporations. He had been an active member of several philanthropic boards including The Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Foundation, New York Law School and Park East Synagogue, among others. Through these experiences, he had learned how to accomplish goals by working with City and State governments and finding common ground between Republicans and Democrats.

First and foremost, if confirmed to serve as US Ambassador, he would encourage Hungarian officials at all levels of government to advance American interests and to promote American and democratic values; the freedom of speech, the freedom of press and the freedom of religion were values that could not and should not be compromised. He would work closely with the Hungarian government to address collective security concerns. "Working together, we can further strengthen communication between our law enforcement and counter-terrorism communities and further global security. I hope to advance our economic interests in Hungary."

Under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the country’s economy was doing extremely well, Cornstein said. In 2017, GDP grew by over four percent and unemployment was under four percent, Hungary lowered its corporate tax rate to nine percent, and since then had received more than USD 2.5 billion in foreign investment.

Although the United States was Hungary’s largest non-European Union investor, there certainly was room for existing American companies doing business in Hungary to do more. "We also can have new United States companies sell their services and products to Hungary. There are many Hungarian companies that should have offices in the United States to manufacture and sell their products and services, thereby creating more American jobs." He would work with the US Commerce Department to achieve these goals.

"An extremely important goal I have, if confirmed, is to halt the rise of anti-Semitism in Hungary and Central and Eastern Europe. I am a very proud American Jew and it hurts and disturbs me deeply that this cancer continues to grow. I will work diligently with Jewish organisations, other religious communities and the Hungarian government to make sure the Jewish community feels safe and secure."

"I will reach out to the Hungarian people from all walks of life to share this American value of religious freedom, protection and tolerance for all people."

According to AllGov website, Cornstein was born in New York City on August 17, 1938. An only child, his father, Irwin, was in the rug business and his mother, Fanny, was a schoolteacher whose parents were immigrants from Hungary. AllGov says Cornstein has a lot in common with President Trump, in that they’re both New Yorkers who have winter homes in Palm Beach, they’re both very rich and they’ve both led money-losing gambling operations.

The US Department of State website says Cornstein has a distinguished record of achievement as a businessman and prominent civic leader. His great success in business is a testament to his exceptional leadership and management skills. Those abilities, coupled with his effectiveness in building strong and achievement-oriented coalitions in his work in the public sector, make him well-qualified to serve as American Ambassador to Hungary.


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